Of all the folks you’re prone to see kicking around Dunedin, Dave Korman is the most likely suspect. By his account, the 43-year-old (who shares a birthday with Elvis) was born in St. Louis, kidnapped by his dad at age 16 and whisked off to New Port Richey. Then he ran away to live in a tent in Dunedin. He didn’t choose the town for any reasons other than its proximity and the fact that he’d made a few friends there. “I didn’t know anything about anywhere,” he explains. “I remember the town being nothing, it was like empty buildings, you know?”
He’s remained in Dunedin because he grew to love it and its “free-flowing arts community,” which appeals to his laid-back creative aspirations. He’d always played music, and amid schooling and working at places like Kelly’s and defunct hangouts like Boomerangs and The Pharm, he busked in the streets, performed all around the local scene, both solo and with other players, and eventually formed and fronted Leonard Croon, an outfit that enjoyed some popularity in the 1990s and even had a beer named in its honor at Dunedin Brewery, Leonard Croon’s Old Mean Stout. The robust favorite is still served every winter, many years after the band’s demise but with varying recipes and bottle designs.
These days, Kroman works in digital publishing, writes original solo material and songs for his folk-Americana outfit Memphis Train Union (with Michael Hoag and Jason Mullins). Whenever he feels like it, he loads his gear into a wagon, pulls it downtown, and “just show up to a place and play.” He says the proprietors usually let him drink for free while he entertains and cheekily teases their customers. He’s just as inclined to set up on a street corner to serenade passersby until, he says, “I make enough money to get some beer.” Sometimes he’s joined by a keyboardist on a pump organ from the 1930s; mostly, he’s alone. “I tried to get a license to play on the street; I kept calling City Hall but they’d never return my calls, so I just started doing it. I’ve been doing it for years …”